Fuji GABA Tamaryokucha (富士ギャバ玉緑茶) is a green tea that is grown on the slopes of Mt Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture. Tamaryokucha is also commonly known as guricha in Japanese, a type of steamed green tea that has a distinctive curled leaf appearance. This version is further processed in an oxygen-deprived environment to increase the GABA content. The resulting GABA green tea has an attractive taste that reduces the vegetal and grassy flavours, while introducing a more tart fruity aspect. It is also commonly known as Gabaron tea in Japan (ギャバロン茶). We source this tea from a specialist small wholesaler in Shizuoka who works directly with the farmers. They specifically support smaller farmers in distributing their teas, developing new tea types, improving their techniques and providing additional end processing and refining at their small tea factory in Makinohara. This current batch was picked on 5 May 2022.
The name tamaryokucha (玉緑茶) literally translates as ball green tea into English. The alternative name for the steamed version of tamaryokucha is mushiguri (蒸しぐり) or guricha (ぐり茶), meaning (steamed) curly tea. The processing method for tamaryokucha follows that of sencha. The only difference is that the last step in processing, which is shaping, is omitted. The shaping stage gives the straight leaf appearance to the classic sencha leaf. As tamaryokucha is not shaped, the leaf retains the natural curl or coil shape. This also means that fewer leaves are broken during processing, resulting in a larger leaf. In terms of flavour, it also contributes to a smoother, less astringent and less drying flavour.
While this tea is positioned as a ‘health tea’ in Japan due to the high GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) and theanine levels, we also do find it to be delicious! The GABA content in the dry leaf for this batch was measured at 250mg/100g, making it by far the highest confirmed content in any of our GABA teas. The level of theanine was measured at 2900mg/100g of dry leaf. As with all GABA tea, this tea undergoes a period of processing in an oxygen deprived environment (in this case around 8 hours). Typically this involves placing the tea leaves in a special vacuum tank that is then flushed with nitrogen. The leaves undergo a very light but very slow oxidation that vastly increases the GABA content.
Even though the GABA tea processing was invented by Japanese scientists, it was Taiwanese tea growers who really popularised it. While GABA Oolong from Taiwan is the most popular and common type at the moment, some GABA Green tea is also produced in Taiwan. Japan is also producing GABA green tea, but the production is limited and most of this tea stays in Japan. While personal experiences vary, many tea drinkers experience a calming and relaxing effect on the body that is combined with clarity of mind from this type of tea. It’s a perfect choice when practicing meditation, yoga and Tai Chi.
This GABA green tea has a typical appearance for a Tamaryokucha, which represents a neat, curly dark green leaf. Some small amount of stalks is also present that lends a bit of extra sweetness. It produces a bright green-yellow liquor with a vegetal and fruity aroma. The smooth taste has pronounced fruity vegetal notes. Combined with a savoury herbaceous aspect, the notes are reminiscent of green vine tomatoes and underripe fruits. The aftertaste is lasting, with a tangy and sour note that is commonly found in GABA teas, while further infusions bring out more citrus flavours. This tea serves as a great example of a GABA green tea as it possesses both the classic Japanese green tea flavours but also the unmistakeable fruity and tart aspect that results from the specialist processing.
It is best brewed at 80°C for around 2-3 minutes, with multiple infusions. For a more traditional style of brewing, the farmer specifically recommends using a traditional Japanese tea pot and to brew 3g in 100ml of water at 70°C for 1 minute, followed by further 45-60 second infusions until no flavour is left.